How a digital workplace can boost competitiveness – three success factors and a checklist

9. August 2017 Pedro Brägger Sharepoint, Teamwork, Workspace

Digital revolution

Many companies are in the midst of a digital revolution, with new digital technologies making it possible to develop and implement new products and business models. The speed of innovation is constantly increasing, and new digital players such as Uber and Airbnb are demonstrating just how quickly established business models can be replaced. For CEOs and CIOs, innovation has therefore been at the top of the agenda for several years now.

During the course of this digitization process, the role of IT has changed considerably, evolving from a background operation into a business-relevant function and a driver of new business models. Or as Jay Crotts, CIO of Royal Dutch Shell, puts it: “Technology has never been more exciting or fast-moving. But IT is now all about the business value that the digital agenda can bring.” [Twitter,, 17/07/2017]

Success factor 1: digital workplace

Now more than ever, innovation is a key factor in the organic growth and survival of all companies. CEOs must be aware that innovation pioneers already exist in their industry, and that they need to make their companies fit for the innovation race. The problem is that organizations are often unwilling or unable to follow the innovation leaders, whether because they are lacking the necessary skills or they are not set up to handle the rapid speed of innovation. Successful innovation, however, calls for a new way of thinking, modern collaboration models and a fresh approach to implementing projects.

The aim must be to create an organizational culture and implement processes that permit and foster innovation in all areas. This requires digital workplaces that can provide employees with all necessary tools and information at any time, regardless of where they are based. It also requires interdepartmental communication and the centralized management of all company data. The pillars of such an ‘innovation engine’ are a robust innovation strategy and powerful social intranet and collaboration software (digital workplace), which acts as a catalyst.

Success factor 2: employee commitment

Flexibility, transparency, employee commitment and better communication are key factors in creating a corporate culture that offers a good environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, an innovation wall exists in many companies. In other words, information is not available across different departments, and the friction losses associated with innovation processes are too high internally. As a result, potential innovations never get off the ground, and committed, highly qualified employees lose motivation.

Using social intranet software has the potential to transform a corporate culture and boost employee commitment. The software changes the way that employees communicate and contribute to achieving an objective. For example, with a social intranet, employees can regularly log into their personal workspace from anywhere to work on their projects and share ideas in a small team. This not only makes the employees identify more with the team and the company, it also inspires them to contribute more toward meeting mutual objectives.

A social intranet also offers the possibility of liking, sharing and commenting on contributions from co-workers, in the same way as on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, etc. According to a study by McKinsey, the benefit of these social functions in companies is undeniable: they facilitate internal communication and knowledge sharing, and improve collaboration. Believe it or not, these positive effects can boost the productivity of staff – including the management – by 25%. These internal communication channels also enable the management to communicate with their staff in an easy way, to access knowledge and to avoid unnecessary communication barriers.

The benefit for companies is considerable:

Fewer resources are needed, as staff are used more efficiently.
The company’s strategic projects can be completed more quickly.
Time to market becomes shorter.
All of these effects have a major impact on the innovative capability and competitiveness of the company.

Success factor 3: rapid and cost-effective implementation

Social intranet implementation is seeing a clear trend toward using pre-built intranet solutions; for example, those based on SharePoint. These are also referred to as ‘intranet in-a-box’ or ‘SaaS intranet’ solutions (Software as a Service). Custom solutions, on the other hand, take longer to develop (around two years) and are expensive. They also incur long-term costs for the service and the ongoing development of the custom software. There are therefore a lot of arguments in favor of a pre-built solution.

Benefits of a pre-built intranet solution based on SharePoint:

  • Low cost
  • Cost certainty
  • Cost based on number of employees
  • Fast implementation
  • Highly advanced functionality
  • Less burden on IT department
  • Professional partner with expertise

Does your company need a social intranet?

Use the following questions to check whether you need a social intranet in your company.


  • Do you have many teams working on projects at the same time?
  • Do you need to improve the efficiency and accessibility of shared data among project teams?
  • Do your teams use multiple locations to store confidential company data (Shadow IT)?
  • Do your employees need access to company data while traveling?
  • Do you need to transfer knowledge more effectively among employees (to prevent duplication of activities)?
  • Do you need to use multiple project templates, e.g. access permissions?
  • Do you have a way to view the status of all/specific projects in real-time via dashboards?